Letter to the Editor - September 19, 2019
Local American Heart Association reps call for ban on the sale of flavors in e-cigarettes
South Carolina lawmakers need to put the health of our residents first by banning flavors in e-cigarettes. Right now, teenagers and adults in the Palmetto State smoke more than the national rate. In addition, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and puts you at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.
Adolescents’ use of e-cigarettes, nicotine vapor devices, hookahs and small cigars has gone up dramatically, threatening to completely erase decades of progress. Right now, 25,000 teenagers are using e-cigarettes in South Carolina.
With their colorful packaging and sweet, candy flavors, today’s flavored tobacco products are often hard to distinguish from the candy displays near which they are frequently placed in convenience stores and gas stations. Because of the addictive nature of nicotine, experimentation or initiation of tobacco use among youth and young adults is particularly troubling. This is a critical period for growth and development where the brain is especially susceptible and sensitive to the effects of nicotine. Studies have shown that e-cigarette use can lead to other forms of addiction. Evidence also shows that the younger a user is when they smoke their first e-cigarette, the more likely they are to be a smoker for life.
As representatives of the American Heart Association, we believe banning the sale of flavors in e-cigarettes would reduce youth access to, and use of, all nicotine products. The ban would also significantly increase overall life expectancy and simultaneously reduce healthcare costs. This crucial step is needed to continue building a healthier community.
Larry Tarleton, American Heart Association Board Chair
Katie Schumacher, American Heart Association Executive Director